How to hire good call centre agents

Recruitment

With the swing towards prioritising customer experience, it’s important that you recruit agents with a talent for providing top quality customer care.

But what qualities should you look for in a potential candidate?

Calmness under pressure

This is an important trait of a good call centre candidate.  There are all kinds of pressures on agents, but they’ll need to maintain a calm demeanour at all times.

Test competency           

Most candidates will happily tell you about their past experience, but you need to see their work for yourself.

Role playing and practical test exercises are a good way to see their technique in action.

In the interview, try to pin them down. If they tell you they are good at dealing with complaints, ask them to give you a specific example from when they’ve handled a complaint in their last job.

Define key skills to look for

Make sure you have a list of criteria to hand when you interview potential candidates.

  • The ability to control the call
  • Fluent conversational ability
  • Clear and confident communication skills
  • Conscientiousness when following up with clients
  • An eye for detail
  • Good written communication skills

As every call centre is unique, you may have more specific qualities you’re looking for.

Having a clear idea of what you need from your agents can help you to recruit the right person.

Recruit in batches

It saves a lot of time and effort to recruit in small groups.

If at all possible, recruit in batches of around 5 or 6.  This has certain advantages, both for your new staff and for you.

It means they can go through the training and induction process together – this allows them to support each other and it also saves the time you might normally spend training new staff individually.

It also means they can start to gel as a team, and gives them greater confidence to get on the phone with real customers sooner.

Create an atmosphere where training is relaxed and informal (and if at all possible, it should be fun too!), so that they can be comfortable asking questions and begin to find their feet.

Be honest about expectations

Make it clear to candidates at the interview stage exactly what you’ll expect from them.

If they find out further down the road that they aren’t willing to fulfil the role you have in mind for them, you may find yourself starting from square one with the recruitment process.

Improve staff retention

Once you’ve attracted the right candidate, you’ll want to keep them.

Average turnover for most call centres is around 9 per cent, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do all you can to improve retention.

The first thing to do is to ensure that you invest adequate time and resources in the induction process.

Making certain that new staff members integrate smoothly with the existing team and feel they have access to all the help, support and training resources they need can go a long way towards growing their confidence and helping them to fit in.